Part 10 out of 12
The gentleman, whom Roland Yorke designated as "Jenner's old clerk,"
was shut in with Mr. Galloway; and Roland, who appeared to be on the
thorns of curiosity, arrested Arthur.
"I say, what is it that's agate? He has been going into fits, pretty
near, over some letter that came, asking me five hundred questions
about it. What have you to do with it? What does he want with you?"
"Some one has been sending him back the money, Roland. It came in a
Roland opened his eyes. "What money?"
"The money that was lost. A twenty-pound note has come. He asked me
whether it was the veritable note that was taken."
"A twenty-pound note come!" repeated puzzled Roland.
"It's quite true, Roland. It purports to be sent by the stealer of the
money for the purpose of clearing me."
Roland stood for a few moments, profound surprise on his face, and then
began to execute a triumphant hornpipe amidst the desks and stools of
the office. "I said it would come right some time; over and over again
I said it! Give us your hand, old fellow! He's not such a bad trump
after all, that thief!"
"Hush, Roland! you'll be heard. It may not do me much good. Galloway
seems to doubt me still."
"Doubt you still!" cried Roland, stopping short in his dance, and
speaking in a very explosive tone. "Doubt you _still_! Why, what would
"I don't know;" sighed Arthur. "I have assured him I did not send it;
but he fancies I may have done it to clear myself. He talks of calling
in Butterby again."
"My opinion then, is, that he wants to be transported, if he is to turn
up such a heathen as that!" stamped Roland. "What would he have, I ask?
Another twenty, given him for interest? Arthur, dear old fellow, let's
go off together to Port Natal, and leave him and his office to it! I'll
find the means, if I rob his cash-box to get them!"
But Arthur was already beyond hearing, having waved his adieu to Roland
Yorke and his impetuous but warm-hearted championship. Anxious to get
on with the task he had undertaken, he hastened home. Constance was in
the hall when he entered, having just returned from Lady Augusta
His confidant throughout, his gentle soother and supporter, his ever
ready adviser, Arthur drew her into one of the rooms, and acquainted
her with what had occurred. A look of terror rose to her face, as she
"Hamish has done it!" she uttered, in a whisper. "This puts all doubt
at an end. There are times--they have been times"--she burst into tears
as she spoke--"when I have fondly tried to cheat myself that we were
suspecting him wrongfully. Arthur! others suspect him."
Arthur's face reflected the look that was upon hers. "I trust not!"
"But they do. Ellen Huntley dropped a word inadvertently, which
convinces me that he is in some way doubted there. She caught it up
again in evident alarm, ere it was well spoken; and I dared not pursue
the subject. It is Hamish who has sent this money."
"You speak confidently, Constance."
"Listen. I know that he has drawn money--papa's salary and his own: he
mentioned it incidentally. A few days ago I asked him for money for
housekeeping purposes, and he handed me a twenty-pound note, in mistake
for a five-pound. He discovered the mistake before I did, and snatched
it back again in some confusion."
'I can't give you that,' he said in a laughing manner, when he
recovered himself. 'That has a different destination.' Arthur! that
note, rely upon it, was going to Mr. Galloway."
"When was this?" asked Arthur.
"Last week. Three or four days ago."
Trifling as the incident was, it seemed to bear out their suspicions,
and Arthur could only come to the same conclusion as his sister: the
thought had already crossed him, you remember.
"Do not let it pain you thus, Constance," he said, for her tears were
falling fast. "He may not call in Butterby. Your grieving will do no
"I cannot help it," she exclaimed, with a burst of anguish. "How God is
Ay! even as silver, which must be seven times purified, ere it be
Constance Channing sat, her forehead buried in her hands. _How God was
trying them!_ The sentence, wrung from her in the bitterness of her
heart, but expressed the echo of surrounding things. Her own future
blighted; Arthur's character gone; Tom lost the seniorship; Charley not
heard of, dead or alive! There were moments, and this was one of them,
when Constance felt almost beyond the pale of hope. The college school,
meanwhile existed in a state of constant suspense, the sword of terror
ever hanging over its head. Punishment for the present was reserved;
and what the precise punishment would be when it came, none could tell.
Talkative Bywater was fond of saying that it did not matter whether
Miss Charley turned up or not, so far as their backs were concerned:
_they_ would be made to tingle, either way.
Arthur, after communicating to Constance the strange fact of the return
of the money to Mr. Galloway, shut himself up in the study to pursue
his copying. Tea-time arrived, and Sarah brought in the tea-things. But
neither Hamish nor Tom had come in, and Constance sat alone, deep in
That it was Hamish who had now returned the money to Mr. Galloway,
Constance could not entertain the slightest doubt. It had a very
depressing effect upon her. It could not render worse what had
previously happened, indeed, it rather mended it, insomuch as that it
served to show some repentance, some good feeling; but it made the
suspicion against Hamish a certainty; and there had been times when
Constance had been beguiled into thinking it only a suspicion. And now
came this new fear of Mr. Butterby again!
Hamish's own footstep in the hall. Constance roused herself. He came
in, books under his arm, as usual, and his ever-gay face smiling. There
were times when Constance almost despised him for his perpetual
sunshine. The seriousness which had overspread Hamish at the time of
Charley's disappearance had nearly worn away. In his sanguine
temperament, he argued that not finding the body was a proof that
Charley was yet alive, and would come forth in a mysterious manner one
of these days.
"Have I kept you waiting tea, Constance?" began he. "I came home by way
of Close Street, and was called into Galloway's by Roland Yorke, and
then got detained further by Mr. Galloway. Where's Arthur?"
"He has undertaken some copying for Mr. Galloway, and is busy with it,"
replied Constance in a low tone. "Hamish!" raising her eyes to his
face, as she gathered resolution to speak of the affair: "have you
heard what has happened?"
"That some good fairy has forwarded a bank-note to Galloway on the
wings of the telegraph? Roland Yorke would not allow me to remain in
ignorance of that. Mr. Galloway did me the honour to ask whether I had
"You!" uttered Constance, regarding the avowal only from her own point
of view. "He asked whether _you_ had sent it?"
She gazed at Hamish as if she would read his very soul. "And what
did--what did you answer?"
"Told him I wished a few others would suspect me of the same, and count
imaginary payments for real ones."
"Hamish!" she exclaimed, the complaint wrung from her: "how can you be
so light, so cruel, when our hearts are breaking?"
Hamish, in turn, was surprised at this. "I, cruel! In what manner,
Constance? My dear, I repeat to you that we shall have Charley back
again. I feel sure of it; and it has done away with my fear. Some
inward conviction, or presentiment--call it which you like--tells me
that we shall; and I implicitly trust to it. We need not mourn for
"It is not for Charley: I do not speak of Charley now," she sadly
reiterated. "You are straying from the point. Hamish, have you _no_
love left for Arthur?"
"I have plenty of love for every one," said Mr. Hamish.
"Then _how_ can you behave like this? Arthur is not guilty; you know he
is not. And look what he has to bear! I believe you would laugh at the
greatest calamity! Sending back this money to Mr. Galloway
has--has--sadly distressed me."
Hamish turned his smiling eyes upon her, but his tone was grave. "Wait
until some great calamity occurs, Constance, and then see whether I
laugh. Did I laugh that dreadful night and day that succeeded to
Charley's loss? Sending back the money to Mr. Galloway is not a cause
for sadness. It most certainly exonerates Arthur."
"And you are gay over it!" She would have given anything to speak more
"I am particularly gay this afternoon," acknowledged Hamish, who could
not be put out of temper by any amount of reproach whatever. "I have
had great news by the post, Constance."
"From Germany?" she quickly cried.
"Yes, from Germany," he answered, taking a letter from his pocket, and
spreading it open before Constance.
It contained the bravest news: great news, as Hamish expressed it. It
was from Mr. Channing himself, and it told them of his being so far
restored that there was no doubt now of his ability to resume his own
place at his office. They intended to be home the first week in
November. The weather at Borcette continued warm and charming, and they
would prolong their stay there to the full time contemplated. It had
been a fine autumn everywhere. There was a postscript added to the
letter, as if an afterthought had occurred to Mr. Channing. "When you
see Mr. Huntley, tell him how well I am progressing. I remember, by the
way, that he hinted at being able to introduce you to something, should
I no longer require you in Guild Street."
In the delight that the news brought, Constance partially lost sight of
her sadness. "It is not all gloom," she whispered to herself. "If we
could only dwell on God's mercies as we do on His chastisement; if we
could only feel more trust, we should see the bright side of the cloud
oftener than we do."
But it _was_ dark; dark in many ways, and Constance was soon to be
reminded again of it forcibly. She had taken her seat at the tea-table,
when Tom came in. He looked flushed--stern; and he flung his Gradus,
and one or two other books in a heap, on the side table, with more
force than was necessary; and himself into a chair, ditto.
"Constance, I shall leave the school!"
Constance, in her dismay, dropped the sugar-tongs into the sugar.
"I shall leave the school!" he repeated, his tone as fiery as his face.
"I wouldn't stop in it another month, if I were bribed with gold.
Things are getting too bad there."
"Oh, Tom, Tom! Is this your endurance?"
"Endurance!" he exclaimed. "That's a nice word in theory, Constance;
but just you try it in practice! Who has endured, if I have not? I
thought I'd go on and endure it, as you say; at any rate, until papa
came home. But I can't--I can't!"
"What has happened more than usual?" inquired Hamish.
"It gets worse and worse," said Tom, turning his blazing face upon his
brother. "I wouldn't wish a dog to live the life that I live in the
college school. They call me a felon, and treat me as one; they send me
to Coventry; they won't acknowledge me as one of their seniors. My
position is unbearable."
"Live it down, Tom," said Hamish quietly.
"Haven't I been trying to live it down?" returned the boy, suppressing
his emotion. "It has lasted now these two months, and I have borne it
daily. At the time of Charley's loss I was treated better for a day or
two, but that has worn away. It is of no use your looking at me
reproachfully, Constance; I must complain. What other boy in the world
has ever been put down as I? I was head of the school, next to Gaunt;
looking forward to be the head; and what am I now? The seniorship taken
from me in shame; Huntley exalted to my place; my chance of the
"Huntley does not take the exhibition," interrupted Constance.
"But Yorke will. _I_ shan't be allowed to take it. Now I know it,
Constance, and the school knows it. Let a fellow once go down, and he's
kept down: every dog has a fling at him. The seniorship's gone, the
exhibition is going. I might bear that tamely, you may say; and of
course I might, for they are negative evils; but what I can't and won't
bear, are the insults of every-day life. Only this afternoon they--"
Tom stopped, for his feelings were choking him; and the complaint he
was about to narrate was never spoken. Before he had recovered breath
and calmness, Arthur entered and took his seat at the tea-table. Poor
Tom, allowing one of his unfortunate explosions of temper to get the
better of him, sprang from his chair and burst forth with a passionate
reproach to Arthur, whom he regarded as the author of all the ill.
"Why did you do it? Why did you bring this disgrace upon us? But for
you, I should not have lost caste in the school."
"Tom!" interposed Hamish, in a severe tone.
Mr. Tom, brave college boy that he was--manly as he coveted to be
thought--actually burst into tears. Tears called forth, not by
contrition, I fear; but by remembered humiliation, by vexation, by the
moment's passion. Never had Tom cast a reproach openly to Arthur;
whatever he may have felt he buried it within himself; but that his
opinion vacillated upon the point of Arthur's guilt, was certain.
Constance went up to him and laid her hand gently and soothingly upon
"Tom, dear boy, your troubles are making you forget yourself. Do not be
unjust to Arthur. He is innocent as you."
"Then if he is innocent, why does he not speak out like a man, and
proclaim his innocence?" retorted Tom, sensibly enough, but with rather
too much heat. "That's what the school cast in my teeth, more than
anything again. 'Don't preach up your brother's innocence to us!' they
cry; 'if he did not take it, wouldn't he say so?' Look at Arthur
now"--and Tom pointed his finger at him--"he does not, even here, to
me, assert that he is innocent!"
Arthur's face burnt under the reproach. He turned it upon Hamish, with
a gesture almost as fiery, quite as hasty, as any that had been
vouchsafed them by Tom. Plainly as look could speak, it said, "Will
_you_ suffer this injustice to be heaped upon me?" Constance saw the
look, and she left Tom with a faint cry, and bent over Arthur, afraid
of what truth he might give utterance to.
"Patience yet, Arthur!" she whispered. "Do not let a moment's anger
undo the work of weeks. Remember how bravely you have borne."
"Ay! Heaven forgive my pride, Tom!" Arthur added, turning to him
calmly. "I would clear you--or rather clear myself--in the eyes of the
school, if I could: but it is impossible. However, you have less to
blame me for than you may think."
Hamish advanced. He caught Tom's arm and drew him to a distant window.
"Now, lad," he said, "let me hear all about this bugbear. I'll see if
it can be in any way lightened for you."
Hamish's tone was kindly, his manner frank and persuasive, and Tom was
won over to speak of his troubles. Hamish listened with an attentive
ear. "Will you abide by my advice?" he asked him, when the catalogue of
grievances had come to an end.
"Perhaps I will," replied Tom, who was growing cool after his heat.
"Then, as I said to you before, so I say now--_Live it down_. It is the
best advice I can give you."
"Hamish, you don't know what it is!"
"Yes, I do. I can enter into your trials and annoyances as keenly as if
I had to encounter them. I do not affect to disparage them to you: I
know that they are real trials, real insults; but if you will only make
up your mind to bear them, they will lose half their sharpness. Your
interest lies in remaining in the college school; more than that, your
duty lies in it. Tom, don't let it be said that a Channing shrunk from
his duty because it brought him difficulties to battle with."
"I don't think I _can_ stop in it, Hamish. I'd rather stand in a
pillory, and have rotten eggs shied at me."
"Yes, you can. In fact, my boy, for the present you _must_.
Disobedience has never been a fault amongst us, and I am sure you will
not be the one to inaugurate it. Your father left me in charge, in his
place, with full control; and I cannot sanction any such measure as
that of your leaving the school. In less than a month's time he will be
home, and you can then submit the case to him, and abide by his
With all Tom's faults, he was not rebellious, neither was he
unreasonable; and he made up his mind, not without some grumbling, to
do as Hamish desired him. He drew his chair with a jerk to the
tea-table, which of course was unnecessary. I told you that the young
Channings, admirably as they had been brought up, had their faults; as
you have yours, and I have mine.
It was a silent meal. Annabel, who was wont to keep them alive,
whatever might be their troubles, had remained to take tea at Lady
Augusta Yorke's, with Caroline and Fanny. Had Constance known that she
was in the habit of thoughtlessly chattering upon any subject that came
uppermost, including poor Charles's propensity to be afraid of ghosts,
she had allowed her to remain with them more charily. Hamish took a
book and read. Arthur only made a show of taking anything, and soon
left them, to resume his work; Tom did not even make a show of it, but
unequivocally rejected all good things. "How could he be hungry?" he
asked, when Constance pressed him. An unsociable meal it was--almost as
unpleasant as were their inward thoughts. They felt for Tom, in the
midst of their graver griefs; but they were all at cross purposes
together, and they knew it; therefore they could only retain an
uncomfortable reticence one with another. Tom laid the blame to the
share of Arthur; Arthur and Constance to the share of Hamish. To whom
Hamish laid it, was only known to himself.
He, Hamish, rose as the tea-things were carried away. He was preparing
for a visit to Mr. Huntley's. His visits there, as already remarked,
had not been frequent of late. He had discovered that he was not
welcome to Mr. Huntley. And Hamish Channing was not one to thrust his
company upon any one: even the attraction of Ellen could not induce
that. But it is very probable that he was glad of the excuse Mr.
Channing's letter afforded him to go there now.
He found Miss Huntley alone; a tall, stiff lady, who always looked as
if she were cased in whalebone. She generally regarded Hamish with some
favour, which was saying a great deal for Miss Huntley.
"You are quite a stranger here," she remarked to him as he entered.
"I think I am," replied Hamish. "Mr. Huntley is still in the
dining-room, I hear?"
"Mr. Huntley is," said the lady, speaking as if the fact did not give
her pleasure, though Hamish could not conceive why. "My niece has
chosen to remain with him," she added, in a tone which denoted
dissatisfaction. "I am quite _tired_ of talking to her! I tell her this
is proper, and the other is improper, and she goes and mixes up my
advice in the most extraordinary way; leaving undone what she ought to
do, and doing what I tell her she ought not! Only this very morning I
read her a sermon upon 'Propriety, and the fitness of things.' It took
me just an hour--an hour by my watch, I assure you, Mr. Hamish
Channing!--and what is the result? I retired from the dinner-table
precisely ten minutes after the removal of the cloth, according to my
invariable custom; and Ellen, in defiance of my warning her that it is
not lady-like, stays there behind me! 'I have not finished my grapes,
aunt,' she says to me. And there she stays, just to talk with her
father. And he encourages her! What will become of Ellen, I cannot
imagine; she will never be a lady!"
"It's very sad!" replied Hamish, coughing down a laugh, and putting on
the gravest face he could call up.
"Sad!" repeated Miss Huntley, who sat perfectly upright, her hands,
cased in mittens, crossed upon her lap. "It is _grievous_, Mr. Hamish
Channing! She--what do you think she did only yesterday? One of our
maids was going to be married, and a dispute, or some unpleasantness
occurred between her and the intended husband. Would you believe that
Ellen actually wrote a letter for the girl (a poor ignorant thing, who
never learnt to read, let alone to write, but an excellent servant) to
this man, that things might be smoothed down between them? My niece,
Miss Ellen Huntley, lowering herself to write a--a--I can scarcely
allow my tongue to utter the word, Mr. Hamish--a love-letter!"
Miss Huntley lifted her eyes, and her mittens. Hamish expressed himself
inexpressibly shocked, inwardly wishing he could persuade Miss Ellen
Huntley to write a few to him.
"And I receive no sympathy from any one!" pursued Miss Huntley. "None!
I spoke to my brother, and he could not see that she had done anything
wrong in writing: or pretended that he could not. Oh dear! how things
have altered from what they were when I was a young girl! Then--"
"My master says, will you please to walk into the dining-room, sir?"
interrupted a servant at this juncture. And Hamish rose and followed
Mr. Huntley was alone. Hamish threw his glance to the four corners of
the room, but Ellen was not in it. The meeting was not very cordial on
Mr. Huntley's side. "What can I do for you?" he inquired, as he shook
hands. Which was sufficient to imply coldly, "You must have come to my
house for some particular purpose. What is it?"
But Hamish could not lose his sunny temperament, his winning manner. "I
bring you great news, Mr. Huntley. We have heard from Borcette: and the
improvement in my father's health is so great, that all doubts as to
the result are over."
"I said it would be so," replied Mr. Huntley.
They continued talking some little time, and then Hamish mentioned the
matter alluded to in the postscript of the letter. "Is it correct that
you will be able to help me to something," he inquired, "when my father
shall resume his own place in Guild Street?"
"It is correct that I told your father so," answered Mr. Huntley. "I
thought then that I could."
"And is the post gone? I assume that it was a situation of some sort?"
"It is not gone. The post will not be vacant until the beginning of the
year. Have you heard that there is to be a change in the joint-stock
"No," replied Hamish, looking up with much interest.
"Mr. Bartlett leaves. He is getting in years, his health is failing,
and he wishes to retire. As one of the largest shareholders in the
bank, I shall possess the largest voice in the appointment of a.
successor, and I had thought of you. Indeed, I have no objection to say
that there is not the slightest doubt you would have been appointed;
otherwise, I should not have spoken confidently to Mr. Channing."
It was an excellent post; there was no doubt of that. The bank was not
an extensive one; it was not the principal bank of Helstonleigh; but it
was a firmly established, thoroughly respectable concern; and Mr.
Bartlett, who had been its manager for many years, enjoyed many
privileges, and a handsome salary. A far larger salary than was Mr.
Channing's. The house, a good one, attached to the bank, was used as
his residence, and would be, when he left, the residence of his
"I should like it of all things!" cried Hamish.
"So would many a one, young sir, who is in a better position than you,"
drily answered Mr. Huntley. "I thought you might have filled it."
"Can I not, sir?"
Hamish did not expect the answer. He looked inquiringly at Mr. Huntley.
"Why can I not?"
"Because I cannot now recommend you to it," was the reply.
"But why not?" exclaimed Hamish.
"When I spoke of you as becoming Mr. Bartlett's successor, I believed
you would be found worthy to fulfil his duties."
"I can fulfil them," said Hamish.
"Possibly. But so much doubt has arisen upon that point in my own mind,
that I can no longer recommend you for it. In fact, I could not
sanction your appointment."
"What have I done?" inquired Hamish.
"Ask your conscience. If that does not tell you plainly enough, I shall
"My conscience accuses me of nothing that need render me unfit to fill
the post, and to perform my duties in it, Mr. Huntley."
"I think otherwise. But, to pursue the subject will be productive of no
benefit, so we will let it drop. I would have secured you the
appointment, could I have done so conscientiously, but I cannot; and
the matter is at an end."
"At least you can tell me why you will not?" said Hamish, speaking with
some sarcasm, in the midst of his respect.
"I have already declined to do so. Ask your own conscience, Hamish."
"The worst criminal has a right to know his accusation, Mr. Huntley.
Otherwise he cannot defend himself."
"It will be time enough for you to defend yourself when you are
publicly accused. I shall say no more upon the point. I am sorry your
father mentioned the thing to you, necessitating this explanation, so
far; I have also been sorry for having ever mentioned it to him. My
worst explanation will be with your father, for I cannot enter into
cause and effect, any more than I can to you."
"I have for some little time been conscious of a change in your manner
towards me, Mr. Huntley."
"Sir, you _ought_ to tell me what has caused it. I might explain away
any prejudice or wrong impression--"
"There, that will do," interrupted Mr. Huntley. "It is neither
prejudice nor wrong impression that I have taken up. And now I have
said the last word upon the matter that I shall say."
"No more, I say!" peremptorily interrupted Mr. Huntley. "The subject is
over. Let us talk of other things. I need not ask whether you have news
of poor Charley; you would have informed me of that at once. You see, I
was right in advising silence to be kept towards them. All this time of
suspense would have told badly on Mr. Channing."
Hamish rose to leave. He had done little good, it appeared, by his
visit; certainly, he could not wish to prolong it. "There was an
unsealed scrap of paper slipped inside my father's letter," he said.
"It was from my mother to Charley. This is it."
It appeared to have been written hastily--perhaps from a sudden thought
at the moment of Mr. Channing's closing his letter. Mr. Huntley took it
in his hand.
"MY DEAR LITTLE CHARLEY,"
"How is it you do not write to mamma? Not a message from you now: not a
letter! I am sure you are not forgetting me."
"Poor boy!" exclaimed Mr. Huntley, handing it back to Hamish. "Poor
"I did not show it to Constance," observed Hamish. "It would only
distress her. Good night, sir. By the way," added Hamish, turning as he
reached the door: "Mr. Galloway has received that money back again."
"What money?" cried Mr. Huntley.
"That which was lost. A twenty-pound note came to him in a letter by
this afternoon's post. The letter states that Arthur, and all others
who may have been accused, are innocent."
"Oh, indeed!" cried Mr. Huntley, with cutting sarcasm, as the
conviction flashed over him that Hamish, and no other, had been the
sender. "The thief has come to his senses at last, has he? So far as to
render lame justice to Arthur."
Hamish left the room. The hall had not yet been lighted, and Hamish
could hardly see the outline of a form, crossing it from the staircase
to the drawing-room. _He_ knew whose it was, and he caught it to him.
"Ellen," he whispered, "what has turned your father against me?"
Of course she could not enlighten him; she could not say to Hamish
Channing, "He suspects you of being a thief." Her whole spirit would
have revolted from that, as much as it did from the accusation. The
subject was a painful one; she was flurried at the sudden meeting--the
stealthy meeting, it may be said; and--she burst into tears.
I am quite afraid to say what Mr. Hamish did, this being a sober story.
When he left the hall, Ellen Huntley's cheeks were glowing, and certain
sweet words were ringing changes in her ears.
"Ellen! they shall never take you from me!"
MUFFINS FOR TEA.
A week or two passed by, and November was rapidly approaching. Things
remained precisely as they were at the close of the last chapter:
nothing fresh had occurred; no change had taken place. Tom Channing's
remark, though much cannot be said for its elegance, was indisputable
in point of truth--that when a fellow was down, he was kept down, and
every dog had a fling at him It was being exemplified in the case of
Arthur. The money, so mysteriously conveyed to Mr. Galloway, had proved
of little service towards clearing him; in fact, it had the contrary
effect; and people openly expressed their opinion that it had come from
himself or his friends. He was _down_; and it would take more than that
to lift him up again.
Mr. Galloway kept his thoughts to himself, or had put them into his
cash-box with the note, for he said nothing.
Roland Yorke did not imitate his example; he was almost as explosive
over the present matter as he had been over the loss. It would have
pleased him that Arthur should be declared innocent by public
proclamation. Roland was in a most explosive frame of mind on another
score, and that was the confinement to the office. In reality, he was
not overworked; for Arthur managed to get through a great amount of it
at home, which he took in regularly, morning after morning, to Mr.
Galloway. Roland, however, thought he was, and his dissatisfaction was
becoming unbearable. I do not think that Roland _could_ have done a
hard day's work. To sit steadily to it for only a couple of hours
appeared to be an absolute impossibility to his restless temperament.
He must look off; he must talk; he must yawn; he must tilt his stool;
he must take a slight interlude at balancing the ruler on his nose, or
at other similar recreative and intellectual amusements; but, apply
himself in earnest, he could not. Therefore there was little fear of
Mr. Roland's being overcome with the amount of work on hand.
But what told upon Roland was the confinement--I don't mean upon his
health, you know, but his temper. It had happened many a day since
Jenkins's absence, that Roland had never stirred from the office,
except for his dinner. He must be there in good time in the morning--at
the frightfully early hour of nine--and he often was not released until
six. When he went to dinner at one, Mr. Galloway would say, "You must
be back in half an hour, Yorke; I may have to go out." Once or twice he
had not gone to dinner until two or three o'clock, and then he was half
dead with hunger. All this chafed poor Roland nearly beyond endurance.
Another cause was rendering Roland's life not the most peaceful one. He
was beginning to be seriously dunned for money. Careless in that, as he
was in other things, improvident as was ever Lady Augusta, Roland
rarely paid until he was compelled to do so. A very good hand was he at
contracting debts, but a bad one at liquidating them. Roland did not
intend to be dishonest. Were all his creditors standing around him, and
a roll of bank-notes before him he would freely have paid them all;
very probably, in his openheartedness, have made each creditor a
present, over and above, for "his trouble." But, failing the roll of
notes, he only staved off the difficulties in the best way he could,
and grew cross and ill-tempered on being applied to. His chief failing
was his impulsive thoughtlessness. Often, when he had teased or worried
Lady Augusta out of money, to satisfy a debt for which he was being
pressed, that very money would be spent in some passing folly, arising
with the impulse of the moment, before it had had time to reach the
creditor. There are too many in the world like Roland Yorke.
Roland was late in the office one Monday evening, he and a lamp sharing
it between them. He was in a terrible temper, and sat kicking his feet
on the floor, as if the noise, for it might be heard in the street,
would while away the time. He had nothing to do; the writing he had
been about was positively finished; but he had to remain in, waiting
for Mr. Galloway, who was absent, but had not left the office for the
evening. He would have given the whole world to take his pipe out of
his pocket and begin to smoke; but that pastime was so firmly forbidden
in the office, that even Roland dared not disobey.
"There goes six of 'em!" he uttered, as the cathedral clock rang out
the hour, and his boots threatened to stave in the floor. "If I stand
this life much longer, I'll be shot! It's enough to take the spirit out
of a fellow; to wear the flesh off his bones; to afflict him with
nervous fever. What an idiot I was to let my lady mother put me here!
Better have stuck to those musty old lessons at school, and gone in for
a parson! Why can't Jenkins get well, and come back? He's shirking it,
that's my belief. And why can't Galloway have Arthur back? He might, if
he pressed it! Talk of solitary confinement driving prisoners mad, at
their precious model prisons, what else is this? I wish I could go mad
for a week, if old Galloway might be punished for it! It's worse than
any prison, this office! At four o'clock he went out, and now it's six,
and I have not had a blessed soul put his nose inside the door to say,
'How are you getting on?' I'm a regular prisoner, and nothing else. Why
The complaint was cut short by the entrance of Mr. Galloway.
Unconscious of the rebellious feelings of his clerk, he passed through
the office to his own room, Roland's rat-tat-to having ceased at his
appearance. To find Roland drumming the floor with his feet was nothing
unusual--rather moderate for him; Mr. Galloway _had_ found him doing it
with his head. Two or three minutes elapsed, and Mr. Galloway came out
"You can shut up, Roland. And then, take these letters to the post. Put
the desks straight first; what a mess you get them into. Is that will
"Very well! Be here in time in the morning. Good night."
"Good night, sir," responded Roland. "Yes! it's all very fine," he went
on, as he opened the desks, and shoved everything in with his hands,
indiscriminately, _en masse_, which was _his_ way of putting things
straight. "'Be here in time!' Of course! No matter what time I am let
off the previous evening. If I stand this long--"
Roland finished his sentence by an emphatic turn of the key of the
office-door, which expressed quite as much as words could have done;
for he was already out of the room, his hat on his head, and the
letters in his hand. Calling out lustily for the housekeeper, he flung
the key to her, and bounded off in the direction of the post-office.
His way lay past Mrs. Jenkins's shop, which the maid had, for the hour,
been left to attend to. She was doing it from a leaf taken out of
Roland's own book--standing outside the door, and gazing all ways. It
suddenly struck Roland that he could not do better than pay Jenkins a
visit, just to ascertain how long he meant to absent himself. In he
darted, with his usual absence of hesitation, and went on to the
parlour. There was no hurry for the letters; the post did not close
The little parlour, dark by day, looked very comfortable now. A bright
fire, a bright lamp, and a well-spread tea-table, at which Mrs. Jenkins
sat. More comfortable than Jenkins himself did, who lay back in his
easy-chair, white and wan, meekly enjoying a lecture from his wife. He
started from it at the appearance of Roland, bowing in his usual humble
fashion, and smiling a glad welcome.
"I say, Jenkins, I have come to know how long you mean to leave us to
ourselves?" was Roland's greeting. "It's too bad, you know. How d'ye
do, Mrs. Jenkins? Don't you look snug here? It's a nasty cutting night,
and I have to tramp all the way to the post-office."
Free and easy Roland drew a chair forward on the opposite side of the
hearth to Jenkins, Mrs. Jenkins and her good things being in the
middle, and warmed his hands over the blaze. "Ugh!" he shivered, "I
can't bear these keen, easterly winds. It's fine to be you, Jenkins!
basking by a blazing fire, and junketing upon plates of buttered
"Would you please to condescend to take a cup of tea with us, sir?" was
Jenkins's answer. "It is just ready."
"I don't care if I do," said Roland. "There's nothing I like better
than buttered muffins. We get them sometimes at home; but there's so
many to eat at our house, that before a plate is well in, a dozen hands
are snatching at it, and it's emptied. Lady Augusta knows no more about
comfort than a cow does, and she _will_ have the whole tribe of young
ones in to meals."
"You'll find these muffins different from what you get at home," said
Mrs. Jenkins, in her curt, snappish, but really not inhospitable way,
as she handed the muffins to Roland. "I know what it is when things
are left to servants, as they are at your place; they turn out
uneatable--soddened things, with rancid butter, nine times out of ten,
instead of good, wholesome fresh. Servants' cooking won't do for
Jenkins now, and it never did for me."
"These are good, though!" exclaimed Roland, eating away with intense
satisfaction. "Have you got any more downstairs? Mrs. Jenkins, don't I
wish you could always toast muffins for me! Is that some ham?"
His eyes had caught a small dish of ham, in delicate slices, put there
to tempt poor Jenkins. But he was growing beyond such tempting now, for
his appetite wholly failed him. It was upon this point he had been
undergoing Mrs. Jenkins's displeasure when Roland interrupted them. The
question led to an excellent opportunity for renewing the grievance,
and she was too persistent a diplomatist to let it slip. Catching up
the dish, and leaving her chair, she held it out before Roland's eyes.
"Young Mr. Yorke, do you see anything the matter with that ham? Please
to tell me."
"I see that it looks uncommonly good," replied Roland.
"Do you hear?" sharply ejaculated Mrs. Jenkins, turning short round
upon her husband.
"My dear, I never said a word but what it was good; I never had any
other thought," returned he, with deprecation. "I only said that I
could not eat it. I can't--indeed, I can't! My appetite is gone."
Mrs. Jenkins put the dish down upon the table with a jerk. "That's how
he goes on," said she to Roland. "It's enough to wear a woman's
patience out! I get him muffins, I get him ham, I get him fowls, I get
him fish, I get him puddings, I get him every conceivable nicety that I
can think of, and not a thing will he touch. All the satisfaction I can
get from him is, that 'his stomach turns against food!'"
"I wish I could eat," interposed Jenkins, mildly. "I have tried to do
it till I can try no longer. I wish I could."
"Will you take some of this ham, young Mr. Yorke?" she asked. "_He_
won't. He wants to know what scarcity of food is!"
"I'll take it all, if you like," said Roland. "If it's going begging."
Mrs. Jenkins accommodated him with a plate and knife and fork, and with
some more muffins. Roland did ample justice to the whole, despatching
it down with about six cups of good tea, well sugared and creamed.
Jenkins looked on with satisfaction, and Mrs. Jenkins appeared to
regard it in the light of a personal compliment, as chief of the
"And now," said Roland, turning back to the fire, "when are you coming
out again, Jenkins?"
Jenkins coughed--more in hesitation for an answer, than of necessity.
"I am beginning to think, sir, that I shall not get out again at all,"
he presently said.
"Holloa! I say, Jenkins, don't go and talk that rubbish!" was Roland's
reply. "You know what I told you once, about that dropsy. I heard of a
man that took it into his head to fancy himself dead. And he ordered a
coffin, and lay down in it, and stopped in it for six days, only
getting up at night to steal the bread and cheese! His folks couldn't
think, at first, where the loaves went to. You'll be fancying the same,
if you don't mind!"
"If I could only get a little stronger, sir, instead of weaker, I
should soon be at my duty again. I am anxious enough sir, as you may
imagine, for there's my salary, sir, coming to me as usual, and I doing
nothing for it."
"It's just this, Jenkins, that if you don't come back speedily, I shall
take French leave, and be off some fine morning. I can't stand it much
longer. I can't tell you how many blessed hours at a stretch am I in
that office with no one to speak to. I _wish_ I was at Port Natal!"
"Sir," said Jenkins, thinking he would say a word of warning, in his
kindly spirit: "I have heard that there's nothing more deceptive than
those foreign parts that people flock to when the rage arises for them.
Many a man only goes out to starve and die."
"Many a muff, you mean!" returned self-complaisant Roland. "I say,
Jenkins, isn't it a shame about Arthur Channing? Galloway has his money
back from the very thief himself, as the letter said, and yet the old
grumbler won't speak out like a man, and say, 'Shake hands, old
fellow,' and 'I know you are innocent, and come back to the office
again.' Arthur would return, if he said that See if I don't start for
"I wish Mr. Arthur was back again, sir. It would make me easier."
"He sits, and stews, and frets, and worries his brains about that
office, and how it gets on without him!" tartly interposed Mrs.
Jenkins. "A sick man can't expect to grow better, if he is to fret
himself into fiddlestrings!"
"I wish," repeated poor Jenkins in a dreamy sort of mood, his eyes
fixed on the fire, and his thin hands clasped upon his knees: "I do
wish Mr. Arthur was back. In a little while he'd quite replace me, and
I should not be missed."
"Hear him!" uttered Mrs. Jenkins. "That's how he goes on!"
"Well," concluded Roland, rising, and gathering up his letters, which
he had deposited upon a side table, "if this is not a nice part of the
world to live in, I don't know what is! Arthur Channing kept down under
Galloway's shameful injustice; Jenkins making out that things are all
over with him; and I driven off my head doing everybody's work! Good
night, Jenkins. Good night, Mrs. J. That was a stunning tea! I'll come
in again some night, when you have toasted muffins!"
A CHATEAU EN ESPAGNE.
A keen wind, blowing from the east, was booming through the streets of
Helstonleigh, striking pitilessly the eyes and cheeks of the wayfarers,
cutting thin forms nearly in two, and taking stout ones off their legs.
Blinded by the sharp dust, giving hard words to the wind, to the cold,
to the post-office for not being nearer, to anything and everything,
Roland Yorke dashed along, suffering nothing and no one to impede his
progress. He flung the letters into the box at the post-office, when he
reached that establishment, and then set off at the same pace back
Roland was in a state of inward commotion. He thought himself the most
injured, the most hard-worked, the most-to-be-pitied fellow under the
sun. The confinement in the office, with the additional work he had to
get through there, was his chief grievance; and a grievance it really
was to one of Roland's temperament. When he had Arthur Channing and
Jenkins for his companions in it, to whom he could talk as he pleased,
and who did all the work, allowing Roland to do all the play, it had
been tolerably bearable; but that state of things was changed, and
Roland was feeling that he could bear it no longer.
Another thing that Roland would perhaps be allowed to bear no longer
was--immunity from his debts. _They_ had grown on him latterly, as much
as the work had. Careless Roland saw no way out of that difficulty, any
more than he did out of the other, except by an emigration to that
desired haven which had stereotyped itself on the retina of his
imagination in colours of the brightest phantasy--Port Natal. For its
own sake, Roland was hurrying to get to it, as well as that it might be
convenient to do so.
"Look here," said he to himself, as he tore along, "even if Carrick
were to set me all clear and straight--and I dare say he might, if I
told him the bother I am in--where would be the good? It would not
forward me. I wouldn't stop at Galloway's another month to be made into
a royal duke. If he'd take back Arthur with honours, and Jenkins came
out of his cough and his thinness and returned, I don't know but I
might do violence to my inclination and remain. I can't, as it is. I
should go dead with the worry and the work."
Roland paused, fighting for an instant with a puff of wind and dust.
Then he resumed:
"I'd pay my debts if I could; but, if I can't, what am I to do but
leave them unpaid? Much better get the money from Carrick to start me
off to Port Natal, and set me going there. Then, when I have made
enough, I'll send the cash to Arthur, and get him to settle up for me.
I don't want to cheat the poor wretches out of their money; I'd rather
pay 'em double than do that. Some of them work hard enough to get it:
almost as hard as I do at Galloway's; and they have a right to their
own. In three months' time after landing, I shall be able to do the
thing liberally. I'll make up my mind from to-night, and go: I know it
will be all for the best. Besides, there's the other thing."
What the "other thing" might mean, Mr. Roland did not state more
explicitly. He came to another pause, and then went on again.
"That's settled. I'll tell my lady to-night, and I'll tell Galloway in
the morning; and I'll fix on the time for starting, and be off to
London, and see what I can do with Carrick. Let's see! I shall want to
take out lots of things. I can get them in London. When Bagshaw went,
he told me of about a thousand. I think I dotted them down somewhere: I
must look. Rum odds and ends they were: I know frying-pans were amongst
them, Carrick will go with me to buy them, if I ask him; and then he'll
pay, if it's only out of politeness. Nobody sticks out for politeness
more than Carrick. He--"
Roland's castles in the air were suddenly cut short. He was passing a
dark part near the cathedral, when a rough hand--rough in texture, not
in motion--was laid upon his shoulder, and a peculiar piece of paper
thrust upon him. The assailant was Hopper, the sheriff's officer.
Roland flew into one of his passions. He divined what it was, perfectly
well: nothing less than one of those little mandates from our Sovereign
Lady the Queen, which, a short time back, had imperilled Hamish
Channing. He repaid Hopper with a specimen of his tongue, and flung the
writ back at him.
"Now, sir, where's the good of your abusing me, as if it was my fault?"
returned the man, in a tone of remonstrance. "I have had it in my
pocket this three weeks, Mr. Yorke, and not a day but I could have
served it on you: but I'm loth to trouble young gentlemen such as you,
as I'm sure many of you in this town could say. I have got into
displeasure with our folk about the delay in this very paper, and--in
short, sir, I have not done it, till I was obliged."
"You old preacher!" foamed Roland. "I have not tipped you with
half-a-crown lately, and therefore you can see me!"
"Mr. Yorke," said the man, earnestly, "if you had filled my hands with
half-crowns yesterday, I must have done this to-day. I tell you, sir, I
have got into a row with our people over it; and it's the truth. Why
don't you, sir--if I may presume to give advice--tell your little
embarrassments to your mother, the Lady Augusta? She'd be sure to see
you through them."
"How dare you mention the Lady Augusta to me?" thundered haughty
Roland. "Is it fitting that the Lady Augusta's name should be bandied
in such transactions as these? Do you think I don't know what's due to
her better than that? If I have got into embarrassment, I shall not
drag my mother into it."
"Well, sir, you know best. I did not mean to offend you, but the
contrary. Mind, Mr. Roland Yorke!" added Hopper, pointing to the writ,
which still lay where it had been flung: "you can leave it there if you
choose, sir, but I have served it upon you."
Hopper went his way. Roland caught up the paper, tore it to pieces with
his strong hands, and tossed them after the man. The wind took up the
quarrel, and scattered the pieces indiscriminately, right and left.
Roland strode on.
"What a mercy that there's a Port Natal to be off to!" was his comment.
Things were not particularly promising at home, when Roland entered,
looking at them from a quiet, sociable point of view. Lady Augusta was
spending the evening at the deanery, and the children, from Gerald
downwards, were turning the general parlour into a bear-garden.
Romping, quarrelling, shouting and screaming, they were really as
unrestrained as so many young bears. It would often be no better when
Lady Augusta was at home. How Gerald and Tod contrived to do their
lessons amidst it was a marvel to every one. Roland administered a few
cuffs, to enjoin silence, and then went out again, he did not much care
where. His feet took him to the house of his friend, Knivett, with whom
he spent a pleasant evening, the topics of conversation turning chiefly
upon the glories of Port Natal, and Roland's recent adventure with
Hopper. Had anything been wanted to put the finishing touch to Roland's
resolution, that little adventure would have supplied it.
It was past ten when he returned home. The noisy throng had dispersed
then, all except Gerald. Gerald had just accomplished his tasks, and
was now gracefully enjoying a little repose before the fire; his head
on the back of my lady's low embroidered chair, and his feet extended
on either hob.
"What's for supper?" asked Roland, turning his eyes on the cloth, which
bore traces that a party, and not a scrupulously tidy one, had already
partaken of that meal.
"Bones," said Gerald.
"Bones?" echoed Roland.
"Bones," rejoined Gerald. "They made a show of broiling some
downstairs, but they took good care to cut off the meat first. Where
all the meat goes to in this house, I can't think. If a good half of
the leg of mutton didn't go down from dinner to-day, I possessed no
"They are not going to put me off with bones," said Roland, ringing the
bell. "When a man's worked within an ace of his life, he must eat.
Martha,"--when the maid appeared--"I want some supper."
"There's no meat in the house, sir. There were some broiled bo--"
"You may eat the bones yourself," interrupted Roland. "I never saw such
a house as this! Loads of provisions come into it, and yet there's
rarely anything to be had when it's wanted. You must go and order me
some oysters. Get four dozen. I am famished. If I hadn't had a
substantial tea, supplied me out of charity, I should be fainting
before this! It's a shame! I wonder my lady puts up with you two
"There are no oysters to be had at this time, Mr. Roland," returned
Martha, who was accustomed to these interludes touching the
housekeeping. "The shop shuts up at ten."
Roland beat on the floor with the heel of his boot. Then he turned
round fiercely to Martha. "Is there _nothing_ in the house that's
"There's an apple pie, sir."
"Bring that, then. And while I am going into it, the cook can do me
some eggs and ham."
Gerald had turned round at this, angry in his turn, "If there's an
apple pie, Martha, why could you not have produced it for our supper?
You know we were obliged to put up with cheese and butter!"
"Cook told me not to bring it up, Master Gerald. My lady gave no
orders. Cook says if she made ten pies a day they'd get eaten, once you
young gentlemen knew of their being in the house."
"Well?" said Gerald. "She doesn't provide them out of her own pocket."
Roland paid his court to the apple pie, Gerald joining him. After it
was finished, they kept the cook employed some time with the eggs and
ham. Then Gerald, who had to be up betimes for morning school, went to
bed; and I only hope he did not suffer from nightmare.
Roland took up his place before the fire, in the same chair and
position vacated by Gerald. Thus he waited for Lady Augusta. It was not
long before she came in.
"Come and sit down a bit, good mother," said Roland. "I want to talk to
"My dear, I am not in a talking humour," she answered. "My head aches,
and I shall be glad to get to bed. It was a stupid, humdrum evening"
She was walking to the side table to light her bed-candle, but Roland
interposed. He drew the couch close to the fire, settled his mother in
it, and took his seat with her. She asked him what he had to say so
particularly that night.
"I am going to tell you what it is. But don't you fly out at me, mother
dear," he coaxingly added. "I find I can't get along here at all,
mother, and I shall be off to Port Natal."
Lady Augusta did fly out--with a scream, and a start from her seat.
Roland pulled her into it again.
"Now, mother, just listen to me quietly. I can't bear my life at
Galloway's. I can't do the work. If I stopped at it, I'm not sure but I
should do something desperate. You wouldn't like to see your son turn
jockey, and ride in a pink silk jacket and yellow breeches on the
race-course; and you wouldn't like to see him enlist for a soldier, or
run away for a sailor! Well, worse than that might come, if I stopped
at Galloway's. Taking it at the very best, I should only be worked into
"I will not hear another word, Roland," interrupted Lady Augusta. "How
can you be so wicked and ungrateful?"
"What is there wicked in it?" asked Roland. "Besides, you don't know
all. I can't tell you what I don't owe in Helstonleigh, and I've not a
sixpence to pay it with. You wouldn't like to see me marched off to
Lady Augusta gave another shriek.
"And there's a third reason why I wish to be away," went on Roland,
drowning the noise. "But I'll not go into that, because it concerns
Of course the announcement that it concerned himself alone, only made
my lady the more inquisitive to hear it. She peremptorily ordered
Roland to disclose it to her.
But Roland could be as peremptory as she, and he declined, in positive
terms, to explain further.
"It would not afford you any pleasure, mother," he said, "and I should
not have mentioned it but as an additional reason why I must be off."
"You unhappy boy! You have been doing something dreadful!"
"It's not over-good," acknowledged Roland. "Perhaps I'll write you word
all about it from London. I've not smothered William Yorke, or set old
Galloway's office on fire, and those respected gentlemen are my two
_betes noires_. So don't look so scared, mother."
"Roland!" uttered Lady Augusta, as the fact struck her, "if you go off
in this manner, all the money that was paid with you to Mr. Galloway
will be lost! I might as well have sent it down the gutter."
"So I said at the time," answered cool Roland. "Never mind that,
mother. What's that paltry hundred or two, compared with the millions I
shall make? And as to these folks that I owe money to--"
"They'll be coming upon me," interposed Lady Augusta. "Heaven knows,
_I_ have enough to pay."
"They will do nothing of the sort," said Roland. "You have no legal
right to pay my debts. Not one of them but has been contracted since I
was of age. If they come to you, tell them so."
"Roland, Lord Carrick gave you money once or twice when he was here,"
resumed Lady Augusta, "I know he did. What have you done with it all?"
"Money melts," responded Roland. "Upon my word of honour, I do believe
it must melt at times; it vanishes so quickly."
My lady could not cavil at the assertion. She was only too much given
to the same belief herself. Roland continued:
"In a little while--about three months, as I calculate--after my
arrival at Port Natal, I shall be in a position to send funds home to
pay what I owe; and be assured, I will faithfully send them. There is
the finest opening, mother, at Port Natal! Fortunes are being made
there daily. In a few years' time I shall come home with my pockets
lined, and shall settle down by you for life."
"If I could only think the prospect was so good a one!" exclaimed Lady
"It is good," said Roland emphatically. "Why, mother, Port Natal is all
the rage: hundreds are going out. Were there no reasons to urge me
away, you would be doing the most unwise thing possible to stand in the
light of my going. If I were at something that I liked, that I was not
worked to death at; if I did not owe a shilling; if my prospects here,
in short, were first-rate, and my life a bower of rose-leaves, I should
do well to throw it all up for Port Natal."
"But in what manner are these great fortunes made?" wondered Lady
"Of course, I shall acquire all that information. Stuck in this
know-nothing Helstonleigh, I can only state the fact that they _are_
made. I dare say I can find an opening for one or two of the boys out
Lady Augusta--persuadable as ever was a child--began to look upon the
plan with less prejudiced eyes--as Roland would have styled it. As to
Roland, so fully had he become imbued with the golden harvest to be
gathered at Port Natal, that had an angel descended to undeceive him,
he would have refused to listen.
"There will be the losing you, Roland," said Lady Augusta, hesitating
whether she should scold or cry.
"Law, what's that?" returned Roland, slightingly. "You'll get over that
in a day, and return thanks that there's one source of trouble less.
Look here! If I were in the luck of having a good commission given me
in some crack Indian regiment, would you not say, 'Oh be joyful,' and
start me off at once? What are you the worse for George's being away?
Mother!" he added somewhat passionately, "_would_ you like to see me
tied down for life to an old proctor's office?"
"But, Roland, you cannot go out without money. There'll be your outfit
and your passage; and you can't land with empty pockets."
"As to an outfit," said Roland, "you must not run your head upon such a
one as George had. A few new shirts, and a pair or two of waterproof
boots--that will be about all I shall want. I remember shirts and
waterproof boots were mentioned by Bagshaw. What I shall chiefly want
to buy will be tools, and household utensils: frying-pans, and items of
"Frying-pans!" ejaculated Lady Augusta.
"I am sure frying-pans were mentioned," answered Roland. "Perhaps it
was only one, though, for private use. I'll hunt up Bagshaw's list, and
look it over."
"And where's the money to come from?" repeated my lady.
"I shall get it of Lord Carrick. I know he'll give me what I want. I
often talked to him about Port Natal when he was here."
"I had a letter from him to-day," said Lady Augusta. "He will be
returning to Ireland next week."
"Will he, though?" uttered Roland, aroused by the information. "I have
no time to lose, then."
"Well, Roland I must hear more about this to-morrow, and consider it
over," said my lady, rising to retire. "I have not said yet you are to
"I shall go, whether you say it or not," replied frank Roland. "And
when I come home with my pockets lined, a rich man for life, the first
thing I'll buy shall be a case of diamonds for you."
"Stupid boy!" said she laughing. "I shall be too old to wear diamonds
"Oh no, you won't."
My lady gave him a hearty kiss, and went to bed and to sleep. Roland's
visions were not without their effect upon her, and she had a most
delightful dream of driving about in a charming city, whose streets
were paved with malachite marble, brilliant to look upon. How many
times Roland had dreamt that Port Natal was paved with _gold_, he alone
Had Roland been troubled with over-sensitiveness in regard to other
people's feelings, and felt himself at a loss how to broach the matter
to Mr. Galloway, he might have been pleased to find that the way was,
in a degree, paved to him. On the following morning Mr. Galloway was at
the office considerably before his usual hour; consequently, before
Roland Yorke. Upon looking over Roland's work of the previous day, he
found that a deed--a deed that was in a hurry, too--had been
imperfectly drawn out, and would have to be done over again. The cause
must have been sheer carelessness, and Mr. Galloway naturally felt
angered. When the gentleman arrived, he told him what he thought of his
conduct, winding up the reproaches with a declaration that Roland did
him no service at all, and would be as well out of the office as in it.
"I am glad of that, sir," was Roland's answer. "What I was about to
tell you will make no difference, then. I wish to leave, sir."
"Do you?" retorted Mr. Galloway.
"I am going to leave, sir," added Roland, rather improving upon the
assertion. "I am going to Port Natal."
Mr. Galloway was a little taken aback. "Going to where?" cried he.
"To Port Natal."
"To Port Natal!" echoed Mr. Galloway in the most unbounded
astonishment, for not an inkling of Roland's long-thought-of project
had ever reached him. "What on earth should you want there?"
"To make my fortune," replied Roland.
"Oh!" said Mr. Galloway. "When do you start?"
"It is quite true, sir," continued Roland. "Of course I could not go
without informing you."
"Do you start to-day?" repeated Mr. Galloway, in the same mocking tone.
"No, I don't," said Roland. "But I _shall_ start, sir, before long, and
I beg you to believe me. I have talked Lady Augusta over to the plan,
and I shall get the money for it from Lord Carrick. I might drum on
here all my life and never rise to be anything better than a proctor,
besides having my life worked out of me; whereas, if I can get to Port
Natal, my fortune's made. Hundreds and thousands of enterprising
spirits are emigrating there, and they are all going to make their
Had Mr. Galloway not been angry, he would have laughed out-right.
"Yorke," said he, "did you ever hear of a sickness that fell suddenly
upon this kingdom, some years ago? It was called the gold fever.
Hundreds and thousands, as you phrase it, caught the mania, and flocked
out to the Australian gold-diggings, to 'make their fortunes' by
picking up gold. Boy!"--laying his hand on Roland's shoulder--"how many
of those, think you, instead of making their fortunes, only went out TO
"That was not Port Natal, sir."
"It was not. But, unless some of you wild young men come to your
senses, we shall have a second edition of the Australian madness at
Port Natal. Nothing can be more futile than these visionary schemes,
Roland Yorke; they are like the apples of Sodom--fair and promising to
the eye, ashes to the taste. Do not you be deceived by them."
"One _must_ get on at Port Natal, sir."
"If one does not get 'off,'" returned Mr. Galloway, in a cynical
tone that chafed Roland's ear. "The stream that flocked out to the
gold-diggings all thought they should get on--each individual was fully
persuaded that he should come home in a year or two with a plum in each
of his breeches pockets. Where one made his way, Roland--made
wealth--many starved; died; vanished, it was not known how; were never
heard of by their friends, or saw old England again. What good do you
suppose _you_ could do at Port Natal?"
"I intend to do a great deal," said Roland.
"But suppose you found you could do none--suppose it, I say--what would
become of you out in a strange place, without money, and without
"Well," returned Roland, who was never at a loss for an answer: "if
such an impossible thing as a failure were to turn up, I should come
back to my Uncle Carrick, and make him start me in something else."
"Ah!" mockingly observed Mr. Galloway, "a rolling stone gathers no
moss. Meanwhile, Mr. Roland Yorke, suppose you come down from the
clouds to your proper business. Draw out this deed again, and see if
you can accomplish it to a little better purpose than you did
Roland, liking the tone less and less, sat down and grew sullen. "Don't
say I did not give you notice, sir," he observed.
But Mr. Galloway vouchsafed no reply. Indeed, it may be questioned if
he heard the remark, for he went into his own room at the moment Roland
spoke, and shut the door after him.
"Mocking old caterpillar!" grumbled angry Roland. "No fortunes at Port
Natal! I'd go off, if it was only to tantalize _him!_"
Mrs. Jenkins had many virtues. Besides the cardinal one which has been
particularly brought under the reader's notice--that of keeping her
husband in due subjection--she also possessed, in an eminent degree,
the excellent quality of being a most active housewife. In fact, she
had the bump of rule and order, and personally superintended
everything--with hands and tongue.
Amongst other careful habits, was that of never letting any one put a
finger on her best sitting-room, for the purpose of cleaning it, except
herself. She called it her drawing-room--a small, pretty room over the
shop, very well furnished. It was let to Mr. Harper, with the bedroom
behind it. Had Lydia dared even to wipe the dust off a table, it might
have cost her her place. Mrs. Jenkins was wont to slip her old buff
dressing-gown over her clothes, after she was dressed in a morning, and
take herself to this drawing-room. Twice a week it was carefully swept,
and on those occasions a large green handkerchief, tied cornerwise upon
Mrs. Jenkins's head, to save her cap from dust, was added to her
On the morning following Roland's communication to Mr. Galloway, Mrs.
Jenkins was thus occupied--a dust-pan in one hand, a short hand-broom
in the other--for you may be sure she did not sweep her carpets with
those long, slashing, tear-away brooms that wear out a carpet in six
months--and the green kerchief adjusted gracefully over her ears--when
she heard a man's footsteps clattering up the stairs. In much
astonishment as to who could have invaded the house at that hour, Mrs.
Jenkins rose from her knees and flung open the door.
It was Roland Yorke, coming up at full speed, with a carpet-bag in his
hand. "Whatever do you want?" exclaimed she. "Is anything the matter?"
"The matter is, that I want to say a word to Jenkins," replied Roland.
"I know he must be in bed, so I just ran straight through the shop and
"I'm sure you are very polite!" exclaimed Mrs. Jenkins. "For all you
knew, I might have been in the room."
"So you might!" cried easy Roland. "I never thought of that. I should
not have swallowed you, Mrs. Jenkins. Take care! I have hardly a minute
to spare. I shall lose the train."
On he went, up the second flight of stairs, without the slightest
hesitation, and into Jenkins's room, ignoring the ceremony of knocking.
Poor Jenkins, who had heard the colloquy, and recognized Roland's
voice, was waiting for him with wondering eyes.
"I am off, Jenkins," said Roland, advancing and bending over the bed."
I wouldn't go without just saying a word to you."
"Off where, sir?" returned Jenkins, who could not have looked more
bewildered had he been suddenly aroused from sleep.
"To Port Natal. I am sick and tired of everything here, so I'm off at
Jenkins was struck dumb. Of course, the first thought that passed
through his mind was Mr. Galloway's discomfiture, unless he was
prepared for it. "This is very sudden, sir!" he cried, when speech came
to him. "Who is replacing you at the office?"
"No one," replied Roland. "That's the primest bit in the whole play.
Galloway will know what work is, now. I told him yesterday morning that
I should go, but he went into a tantrum, and didn't take it in earnest.
He pointed out to me about sixty things as my day's work to-day, when
he left the office last night; errands to go upon, and writings to do,
and answers to give, and the office to mind! A glorious commotion
there'll be, when he finds it's all thrown upon his own hands. He'll
see how _he_ likes work!"
Jenkins could do nothing but stare. Roland went on:
"I have just slipped round there now, to leave a message, with my
compliments. It will turn his hair green when he hears it, and finds I
am really gone. Do you feel any better, Jenkins?"
The question was put in a different tone; a soft, gentle tone--one in
which Roland rarely spoke. He had never seen Jenkins look so ill as he
was looking now.
"I shall never feel any better in this world, sir."
"Well, give us your hand, Jenkins; I must be off. You are the only one,
old fellow, that I have said good-bye to. You have been a good lot,
Jenkins, and done things for me that other clerks would not. Good luck
to you, old chap, whether you go into the next world, or whether you
stop in this!"
"God bless you, Mr. Roland! God bless you everywhere!"
Roland leapt down the stairs. Mrs. Jenkins stood at the drawing-room
door. "Good-bye," said he to her. "You see I should not have had time
to eat you. What d'ye call that thing you have got upon your head, Mrs.
Jenkins? Only wear it to church next Sunday, and you'll set the
Away he tore to the station. The first person he saw there, officials
excepted, was Hamish Channing, who had gone to it for the purpose of
seeing a friend off by the train. The second, was Lady Augusta Yorke.
Hamish he saw first, as he was turning away from getting his ticket.
"Hamish," said he, "you'll tell Arthur that I did not come round to him
for a last word; I shall write it from London."
"Roland"--and Hamish spoke more gravely than was his wont--"you are
starting upon a wild-goose scheme."
"It is _not_," said Roland; "why do you preach up nonsense? If the
worst came to the worst, I should come back to Carrick, and he'd set me
on my legs again. I tell you, Hamish, I have a hundred reasons to urge
me away from Helstonleigh."
"Is this carpet-bag all your luggage?"
"All I am taking with me. The rest will be sent afterwards. Had I
despatched the bellman about the town to announce my departure, I might
have been stopped; so I have told no one, except poor harmless
Of course it never occurred to proud and improvident Roland that it was
possible to travel in any carriage but a first-class one. A first-class
ticket he took, and a first-class compartment he entered. Fortunately
it was an empty one. Hamish was filling up the door, talking to him,
when sounds of distress were heard coming swiftly along the platform.
Before Hamish had time to see what caused them, they were close upon
his ear, and he found himself vehemently pushed aside, just as Roland
himself might have pushed him. He turned with surprise. Panting,
breathless, in tears, wailing out that she should never see her darling
son again, stood the Lady Augusta Yorke.
What could be the cause of her appearing there in that state? The cause
was Roland. On the previous day, he had held a second conversation with
his mother, picturing the glories of Port Natal in colours so vivid,
that the thought nearly crossed my lady's mind, couldn't she go too,
and make _her_ fortune? She then inquired when he meant to start. "Oh,"
answered Roland, carelessly, "between now and a week's time." The real
fact was, that he contemplated being away on the following morning,
before my lady was up. Roland's motive was not an unfilial one. He knew
how she excited herself over these partings; the violent, if short,
grief to which she gave the reins; he remembered what it had been on
the departure of his brother George. One other motive also held weight
with him, and induced reticence. It was very desirable, remembering
that he was not perfectly free from claims upon his purse, that he
should depart, if not absolutely _sub rosa_, still without its being
extensively known, and that, he knew, would be next door to an
impossibility, were the exact period confided to my lady. Lady Augusta
Yorke could not have kept a secret for a single hour, had it been to
save her life. Accordingly, she retired to rest in blissful ignorance:
and in ignorance she might have remained until he was fairly off, but
for Roland's own want of caution. Up with daylight--and daylight, you
know, does not surprise us too early when the dark days of November are
at hand--Roland began turning over his drawers and closets, to pick out
the few articles he meant to carry with him: the rest would be packed
afterwards. This aroused his mother, whose room was underneath his, and
she angrily wondered what he could be doing. Not for some time until
after the noise had ceased did the faintest suspicion of the truth
break upon her; and it might not then have done so, but for the sudden
remembrance which rose in her mind of Roland's particularly
affectionate farewell the night before. Lady Augusta rang her bell.
"Do you know what Mr. Roland is about in his room?" she inquired, when
Martha answered it.
"Mr. Roland is gone out, my lady," was Martha's reply. "He came down to
the kitchen and drank a cup of coffee; and then went out with a
Lady Augusta became excited. "Where's he gone?" she wildly asked.
"Somewhere by rail, I think, my lady. He said, as he drank his coffee,
that he hoped our heads wouldn't ache till he saw us again. Cook and me
couldn't think what he meant, my lady."
My lady divined only too well. She gave a prolonged series of shrieks,
jumped out of bed, flung on any clothes that came uppermost, and
started in pursuit of him, to the intense wonder of Martha, and to the
astonishment of Helstonleigh, as she flew wildly through the streets to
the station. The sight of Hamish at a carriage-door guided her to her
She sprang into the carriage--it was well, I say, that it was
empty!--and overwhelmed him with a torrent of reproaches, all the while
kissing and hugging him. Not two minutes could be given to their
farewell, for the time was up, and Lady Augusta had to descend again,
"Take care of her home, Hamish," said Roland, putting his head out.
"Mother dear, you'll live to say I have done well, yet. You'll see me
come home, one of these fine days, with a covered waggon after me,
bringing the bags of gold." Poor Roland!
The train steamed off, and Lady Augusta, to the discomfiture of Hamish,
and the admiration of the porters and station boys, set off at full
speed after it, wringing her hands, and tearing her hair, and sobbing
and shrieking out that "She'd go--she'd go with it! that she should
never see her darling boy again!" With some difficulty Hamish soothed
her down to tolerable calmness, and put her into a fly.
They were scarcely beyond the station when she suddenly bent forward to
Hamish, who sat on the seat opposite to her, and seized his hands. "Is
it true that every one gets rich who goes to Port Natal?"
The question was a poser for sunny Hamish. He liked to scatter flowers
in his path, rather than thorns. How could he tell that grieving woman,
that Roland--careless, lazy, improvident Roland--would be almost sure
to return in a worse plight than he had gone? "I have heard of people
doing well at Port Natal," he answered; "and Roland is young and
strong, and has years before him."
"I cannot think how so much money can be made," continued my lady,
beginning to dry her tears. "There are no gold fields there, are
"I think not," said Hamish.
"They must trade, then, I suppose. And, goodness me! what does Roland
know about trading? Nothing. He talks of taking out tools and
"Frying-pans!" repeated Hamish, struck with the item.
"I am sure he said frying-pans. Oh dear!" sobbed Lady Augusta, "what a
relief it would be if folks never had any children; or if boys did not
possess wills of their own! Hamish, you have never given sorrow to
_your_ mother! I feel that you have not!"
Hamish smiled at her. "Now you know, Lady Augusta, that your children
are your dearest treasures," cried he, soothingly. "You would be the
most unhappy woman living if you had none."
"Ah! you can't judge, Mr. Hamish Channing. You have no children of your
"No," said Hamish, laughing, "but my turn may come some day. Dear Lady
Augusta, if Roland has his faults, he has his good qualities. Look on
the bright side of things. Look forward with hope to the time that you
shall see him home safe and well again. It will be sure to come."
"You speak as if you believed it would."
"Of course I do," said Hamish. "And every one finds me a true prophet."
They were then passing the Hazledon Charity. At the iron gates of the
inclosure, talking to an old man, stood the Rev. William Yorke. "Roland
left a message for him!" exclaimed Hamish, half mockingly, as his eyes
fell upon the clergyman.
Lady Augusta, impulse all over, suddenly put her head out at the window
and stopped the fly. William Yorke, looking surprised to see who were
its inmates, advanced to the door. The lady's tears flowed afresh.
"He is gone, William! My darling, self-willed, troublesome boy is gone,
and I shall, perhaps, never see him more, till I am an old woman."
"Who is gone?" returned Mr. Yorke.
"Roland. Never was a mother so tried as I. He will soon be on the sea,
ploughing his way to Port Natal. I wish there was no sea!--no Port
Natals! He went off without saying a word to me, and he is GONE!"
Mr. Yorke, bewildered, turned his eyes on Hamish for explanation. He
had never heard of the Port Natal project. Hamish nodded in
"The best place for him," said Mr. Yorke. "He must work for his bread,
there, before he eats it."
Lady Augusta shrieked. "How cruelly hard you are, William!"
"Not hard, Lady Augusta--kind," he gently said. "If your boys were
brought up to depend upon their own exertions, they would make better
"You said you had a message for him from Roland," resumed Lady Augusta,
looking at Hamish.
Hamish smiled significantly. "Not much of one," he said, and his lips,
as he bent towards William Yorke, assumed an expression of sarcastic
severity. "He merely requested me, after he was in the train, to give
his love to the Rev. William Yorke, as a parting legacy."
Either the words or the tone, probably the latter, struck on the Rev.
William Yorke's self-esteem, and flushed his cheek crimson. Since the
rupture with Constance, Hamish, though not interfering in the remotest
degree, had maintained a tone of quiet sarcasm to Mr. Yorke. And though
Mr. Yorke did not like it, he could not prevent it.
"When does Mr. Channing return?" he abruptly asked of Hamish.
"We shall be expecting him shortly now."
Lady Augusta gave the signal for the fly to drive on. William Yorke put
his hand over the door, and took hers as the man began to whip up his
"Do not grieve too much after him, Lady Augusta. It may prove to be the
best day's work Roland ever did. God has given him hands, and brains;
and a good heart, as I verily believe. If he shall only learn their
value out there, let his lines be ever so hard, he may come home a wise
and a good man. One of my poor pensioners here said to me, not ten
minutes ago, I was brought to know my Saviour, sir, through 'hard
lines.' Lady Augusta, those 'hard lines' are never sent in vain."
AN ARRIVAL IN A FLY.
Was any one ever so ill-used as that unfortunate Mr. Galloway? On the
morning which witnessed his troublesome clerk's departure, he set
rather longer than usual over his breakfast, never dreaming of the
calamity in store for him. That his thoughts were given to business,
there was no doubt, for his newspaper lay untouched. In point of fact,
his mind was absorbed by the difficulties which had arisen in his
office, and the ways and means by which those difficulties might be
That it would be impossible to get on with Roland Yorke alone, he had
said to himself twenty times; and now he was saying it again, little
supposing, poor unconscious man, that even Roland, bad as he was, had
taken flight. He had never intended to get along with only Roland, but
circumstances had induced him to attempt doing so for a time. In the
first place, he had entertained hopes, until very recently, that
Jenkins would recover; in the second place, failing Jenkins, there was
no one in the wide world he would so soon have in his office as Arthur
Channing--provided that Arthur could prove his innocence. With Arthur
and Roland, he could go on very well, or with Jenkins and Roland; but
poor Jenkins appeared to be passing beyond hope; and Arthur's innocence
was no nearer the light than it had been, in spite of that strange
restitution of the money. Moreover, Arthur had declined to return to
the office, even to help with the copying, preferring to take it home.
All these reflections were pressing upon Mr. Galloway's mind.
"I'll wait no longer," said he, as he brought them to a conclusion.
"I'll go this very day after that young Bartlett. I think he might
suit, with some drilling. If he turns out a second Yorke, I shall have
a nice pair upon my hands. But he can't well turn out as bad as Roland:
he comes of a more business-like stock."
This point settled, Mr. Galloway took up the _Times_. Something in its
pages awoke his interest, and he sat longer over it than had been his
wont since the departure of Jenkins. It was twenty minutes past nine by
his watch when he started for his office.
"Now, I wonder how I shall find that gentleman?" soliloquized he, when
he drew near. "Amusing himself, as usual, of course. He'll have made a
show of putting out the papers, and there they will be, lying unopened.
He'll be at Aunt Sally with the letters, or dancing a quadrille with
the stools, or stretched three parts out of the window, saluting the
passengers. I never thought he'd do me much good, and should not have
taken him, but for the respect I owed the late Dr. Yorke. Now for it!"
It was all very well for Mr. Galloway to say, "Now for it," and to put
his hand stealthily upon the door-handle, with the intention of
pouncing suddenly upon his itinerant pupil. But the door would not
open. Mr. Galloway turned, and turned, and shook the handle, as our
respected friend Mr. Ketch did when he was locked up in the cloisters,
but he turned it to no purpose.
"He has not come yet!" wrathfully exclaimed Mr. Galloway. "All the work
of the office on his shoulders and mine, the most busy time of the
whole year, and here's half-past nine, and no appearance of him! If I
live this day out, I'll complain to Lady Augusta!"
At this moment the housekeeper's little maid came running forward.
"Where's Mr. Yorke?" thundered the proctor, in his anger, as if the
child had the keeping of him.
"Please, sir, he's gone to Port Natal."
"Gone to--what?" uttered Mr. Galloway.
She was unlocking the door, and then stood back to curtsey while Mr.
Galloway entered, following in after him--an intelligent child for her
"Please, sir, Mr. Yorke came round this morning, while me and missis
was a dusting of the place, and he said we was to tell Mr. Galloway,
when he come, that he had gone to Port Natal, and left his
"It is not true!" cried Mr. Galloway. "How dare he play these tricks?"
he added, to himself.
"Please, sir, missis said she thought it was true, 'cause he had a
carpet-bag," returned the young servant.
Mr. Galloway stared at the child. "You go round at once to Lady
Augusta's," said he, "and ask what Mr. Yorke means by being so late. I
desire that he will come immediately."
The child flew off, and Mr. Galloway, hardly knowing what to make of
matters, proceeded to do what he ought to have found done. He and
Jenkins had duplicate keys to the desks, letter-box, etc. Since
Jenkins's illness, his keys had been in the possession of Roland.
Presently the child came back again.
"Please, sir, her ladyship's compliments, and Mr. Roland have gone to
The consternation that this would have caused Mr. Galloway, had he
believed it, might have been pitiable. An intimation that our clerk,
who was in the office last night, pursuing his legitimate work, has
"gone to Port Natal," as we might say of some one who goes to make a
morning call at the next door, is not very credible. Neither did Mr.
Galloway give credence to it.
"Did you see her ladyship?" he asked.
"Please, sir, I saw one of the servants, and she went to her ladyship,
and brought out the message."
The young messenger retired, leaving Mr. Galloway to his fate. He
persisted in assuming that the news was too absurd to be correct; but a
dreadful inward misgiving began to steal over him.
The question was set at rest by the Lady Augusta. Feeling excessively
vexed with Roland for not having informed Mr. Galloway of his intended
departure--as from the message, it would appear he had not done--she
determined to go round; and did so, following closely on the heels of
the maid. Her ladyship had already wonderfully recovered her spirits.
They were of a mercurial nature, liable to go up and down at touch; and
Hamish had contrived to cheer her greatly.
"What does all this mean? Where's Roland?" began Mr. Galloway, showing
little more deference to her ladyship, in his flurry, than he might
have shown to Roland himself.
"Did you not know he was going?" she asked.
"I know nothing. Where is he gone?"
"He has started for Port Natal; that is, he has started for London, on
his way to it. He went by the eight o'clock train."
Mr. Galloway sat down in consternation. "My lady, allow me to inquire
what sort of behaviour you call this?"
"Whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, I can't help it," was the
reply of Lady Augusta. "I'm sure _I_ have enough to bear!" she added,
melting into tears. "Of course he ought to have informed you of his
intention, Mr. Galloway. I thought he did. He told me he had done so."
A reminiscence of Roland's communication crossed Mr. Galloway's mind;
of his words, "Don't say I did not give you notice, sir." He had paid
no heed to it at the time.
"He is just another of my headstrong boys," grumbled Lady Augusta.
"They are all specimens of wilfulness. I never knew that it was this
morning he intended to be off, until he was gone, and I had to run
after him to the station. Ask Hamish Channing."
"He must be mad!" exclaimed Mr. Galloway.
"He says great fortunes are made, out at Port Natal. I don't know
whether it is so."
"Great fortunes made!" irascibly responded Mr. Galloway. "Pittances,
that folks go out with, are lost, when they are such as he. That's what
it is. Harem-scarem chaps, who won't work, can do no good at Port
Natal. Great fortunes made, indeed! I wonder that you can be led away
by notions so wild and extravagant, Lady Augusta!"
"I am not led away by them," peevishly returned Lady Augusta, a
recollection of her own elation on the point darting unpleasantly to
her mind. "Where would have been the use of my holding out against it,
when he had set his heart upon the thing? He would have gone in spite
of me. Do you _not_ think fortunes are made there, Mr. Galloway?"
"I am sure they are not, by such as Roland," was the reply. "A man who
works one hour in the day, and plays eleven, would do less good at Port
Natal than he would in his own country. A business man, thoroughly
industrious, and possessing some capital, may make something at Port
Natal, as he would at any other port. In the course of years he might
realize a fortune--in the course of _years_, I say, Lady Augusta."
This was not precisely the prospect Roland had pictured to Lady
Augusta, or to which her own imagination had lent its hues, and she
stood in consternation almost equal to Mr. Galloway's. "What on earth
will he do, then, when he gets there?" ejaculated she.
"Find out his mistake, my lady, and come home without a coat to his
back, as hundreds have done before him, and worked their passage home,
to get here. It is to be hoped he will have to do the same. It will
teach him what work is."
"There never was such an unhappy mother as I am!" bewailed my lady.
"They _will_ do just as they like, and always would, from George
downwards: they won't listen to me. Poor dear boy! reduced, perhaps, to
live on brown bread and pea-soup!"
"And lucky to get that!" cried angry Mr. Galloway. "But the present
question, Lady Augusta, is not what he may do when he gets to Port
Natal, but what am I to do without him here. Look at the position it
has placed me in!"
Lady Augusta could give neither help nor counsel. In good truth, it was
not her fault. But she saw that Mr. Galloway seemed to think it was
hers, or that it was partially hers. She departed home again, feeling
cross with Roland, feeling damped about his expedition, and beginning
to fancy that Port Natal might not, after all, bring her diamonds to
wear, or offer her streets paved with malachite marble.
Mr. Galloway sat down, and reiterated the question in relation to
himself, which Lady Augusta had put regarding Roland when he should
arrive at Port Natal--What on earth was he to do? He could not close
his office; he could not perform its various duties himself; he could
not be out of doors and in, at one and the same time, unless, indeed,
he cut himself in two! What _was_ he to do?
It was more than Mr. Galloway could tell. He put his two hands upon his
knees, and stared in consternation, feeling himself grow hot and cold
alternately. Could Roland--then whirling along in the train, reclining
at his ease, his legs up on the opposite cushion as he enjoyed a
luxurious pipe, to the inestimable future benefit of the carriage--have
taken a view of Mr. Galloway and his discomfiture, his delight would
have been unbounded.
"Incorrigible as he was, he was better than nobody," ejaculated Mr.
Galloway, rubbing up his flaxen curls. "He could keep office, if he did
not do much in it; he received and answered callers; he went out on
hasty messages; and, upon a pinch, he did accomplish an hour or so's
copying. I am down on my beam-ends, and no mistake. What a simpleton
the fellow must be! Port Natal, indeed, for him! If Lord Carrick were
not own brother to my lady, he might have the sense to stop it. Why--"
Arrival the first, and no one to answer it but Mr. Galloway! A fly had
driven up and stopped at the door. No one appeared to be getting out of
it, so Mr. Galloway, perforce, proceeded to see what it wanted. It
might contain one of the chapter, or the dean himself!
But, by the time he reached the pavement, the inmates were descending.
A short lady, in a black bonnet and short black skirts, had let herself
out on the opposite side, and had come round to assist somebody out on
this. Was it a ghost, or was it a man? His cheeks were hollow and
hectic, his eyes were glistening as with fever, his chest heaved. He
had a fur boa wrapped round his neck, and his overcoat hung loosely on
his tall, attenuated form, which seemed too weak to support itself, or
to get down the fly steps without being lifted.
"Now don't you be in a hurry!" the lady was saying, in a cross tone.
"You'll come pitch into the mud with your nose. Can't you wait? It's my
belief you are wanting to do it. Here, let me get firm hold of you; you
know you are as weak as ever was a rat!"
You may recognize the voice as belonging to Mrs. Jenkins, and that poor
shadow could be no one but Jenkins himself, for there certainly was not
another like it in all Helstonleigh. Mr. Galloway stood in
astonishment, wondering what this new move could mean. The descent
accomplished, Jenkins was conducted by his wife through the passage to
the office. He went straight to his old place at his desk, and sat down
on his stool, his chest palpitating, his breath coming in great sighs.
Laying his hat beside him, he turned respectfully to Mr. Galloway, who
had followed him in, speaking with all his native humility:
"I have come, sir, to do what I can for you in this emergency."
And there he stopped--coughing, panting, shaking; looking like a man
more fit to be lying on his death-bed than to be keeping office. Mr.
Galloway gazed at him with compassion. He said nothing. Jenkins at that
moment could neither have heard nor answered, and Mrs. Jenkins was out,
paying the driver.
The paroxysm was not over when she came in. She approached Jenkins,
slightly shook him--her mode of easing the cough--dived in his pockets
for his silk handkerchief, with which she wiped his brow, took off the
fur from his neck, waited until he was quiet, and began:
"I hope you are satisfied! If you are not, you ought to be. Who's to
know whether you'll get back alive? _I_ don't."
"What did he come for?" asked Mr. Galloway.
"Ah!" said Mrs. Jenkins, "that's just what I want to know! As if he
could do any good in the state he is! Look at him, sir."
Poor Jenkins, who was indeed a sight to be looked at, turned his wan
face upon Mr. Galloway.
"I cannot do much sir, I know; I wish I could: but I can sit in the
office--at least, I hope I can--just to take care of it while you are
out, sir, until you can find somebody to replace Mr. Roland."
"How did you know he was gone off?" demanded Mr. Galloway.
"It was in this way," interposed Mrs. Jenkins, ages before poor
Jenkins could gain breath to answer. "I was on my hands and knees,
brushing the fluff off my drawing-room carpet this morning, when I
heard something tearing up the stairs at the rate of a coach-and-six.
Who should it be but young Mr. Yorke, on his way to Jenkins in bed,
without saying so much as 'With your leave,' or 'By your leave.' A
minute or two, and down he came again, gave me a little touch of his
impudence, and was gone before I could answer. Well, sir, I kept on
at my room, and when it was done I went downstairs to see about the
breakfast, never suspecting what was going on with _him_"--pointing
her finger at Jenkins. "I was pouring out his tea when it was ready
to take up to him, and putting a bit of something on a plate, which
I intended to make him eat, when I heard somebody creeping down the
stairs--stumbling, and panting, and coughing--and out I rushed. There
stood he--_he_, Mr. Galloway! dressed and washed, as you see him now!
he that has not got up lately till evening, and me dressing him then!
'Have you took leave of your senses?' said I to him. 'No,' said he, 'my
dear, but I must go to the office to-day: I can't help myself. Young
Mr. Yorke's gone away, and there'll be nobody.' 'And good luck go with
him, for all the use he's of here, getting you out of your bed,' said
I. If Jenkins were as strong as he used to be, Mr. Galloway, I should
have felt tempted to treat him to a shaking, and then, perhaps, he'd
have remembered it!"
"Mr. Roland told me he was going away, sir, and that you had nobody to
replace him; indeed, I gathered that you were ignorant of the step,"
struck in the quiet, meek voice of poor Jenkins. "I could not stay
away, sir, knowing the perplexity you would be put to."
"No, it's my belief he could not," tartly chimed in Jenkins's lady. "He
would have tantalized himself into a fever. Why, Mr. Galloway, had I
marched him back to his bed and turned the key upon him, he'd have been
capable of letting himself down by a cord from his window, in the face
and eyes of all the street. Now, Jenkins, I'll have none of your
contradiction! you know you would."
"My dear, I am not contradicting; I am not well enough to contradict,"